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Tajikistan - Main Details

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Tajikistan is a predominantly mountainous country in Central Asia, with 93% of its territory composed of mountains. It is divided into plains and low mountains (300-1600 masl), with desert savannoide flora and fauna with gray desert soils, midlands (1600-2800 masl) with mountain woodlands and forests and brown mountain soil, highland zones (2800-4500 masl) with alpine cold desert flora and fauna, with meadow-steppe, steppe, zang, and desert soils, and nival zones (4500 masl) with cryophyte flora with skeletal soils. Although nearly 70% of Tajikistan’s territory has not been impacted by economic activity to any significant degree, 10% is however characterized by a high degree of anthropogenic impact resulting from an increase in economic development in recent years, which has led to an increase in erosion and land degradation. Tajikistan is heavily dependent on agriculture, with 60% of the population engaged in this sector. Notably, 25% of the country’s territory is covered by Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNTs) whose development began 1983.

The country’s flora and fauna make up 1.9% of the world’s species. With wild relatives of cultivated plants totaling 1,000 species, in addition to 1,132 endemic species, floral diversity in Tajikistan is relatively rich considering the small size of the country. Of particular importance are plants grown for food that comprise about 300 species, while the gene bank for grain, leguminous and oil crops contains about 3,000 specimens. Medicinal plants are the basis of traditional medicine which is widely used by the population in their daily lives. Additionally, there are 81 species of mammals and 385 species of birds, 2 species of amphibians, 49 species of fish and 12,000 species of invertebrates. A prominent feature of the animal kingdom is the large number of animals endemic to Tajikistan.

There are a considerable number of rare and threatened species in the country, with some species threatened with extinction and included in the Red Data Book. The country has 226 rare and threatened plant species and 162 animal species. Ten percent of birds (37 species) are rare or endangered, with falcons and bustards in the most critical situation. However, each year, there are still dozens of them illegally caught and taken out of the country. In the last 50 years, the Turan tiger (Panthera Tigrisvirgata) and Menzbier’s marmot (Marmotamenzbieri) have become nationally extinct. Other rare and endangered mammals include the Tajik markhur, Bukhara Red deer, Pamir wild sheep, Persian gazelle, Bukhara wild ram, snow leopard, jungle cat, otter, striped hyena and leopard. Unfortunately, more detailed information is not available. A database on the status of biodiversity and ecosystems does not exist due to the absence of an adequate national monitoring system. However, a database has been developed for the Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNTs) to serve as a basis for monitoring and a model for database management.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

An increase in economic development and activity in the past years is the main cause of changes in biodiversity and loss. Owing to soil degradation, arable land had decreased by 3.2% over the last fifteen years. Today, thanks to changes in the forestry sector and a series of reforestation programmes, illegal cutting in forest ecosystems has been stopped by 95-97%.

In the last 15-20 years, the population has increased to up to 8 million people which has increased the demands on biodiversity resources, which in turn has led to an increase in deforestation, grassland degradation, fishing activities, hunting of wild animals, etc. Such activities have been particularly observed in the habitats of valuable wild fruit trees. Further, drastic changes to habitats, direct removal of plants and the persecution of animals in the wild have led to several species being threatened with extinction.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

Tajikistan’s National Strategy and Action Plan on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity was adopted by a Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan on 1 September 2003. The NBSAP focuses on five strategic goals: (1) economic and social evaluation of national biological resources (2) regeneration and conservation of the genetic pool of plants and animals (3) in situ and ex situ biodiversity conservation (4) provision of biological safety for the country (5) sustainable use of biological resources to reduce poverty and improve the quality of human life. Fifteen priorities for biological conservation were identified, including the creation of the national ecological network and the conservation of each of Tajikistan’s ecosystems, including through in situ and ex situ conservation, with key actions defined to complement each of these priorities.

Tajikistan has recognized the need to update the NBSAP, set national targets in line with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, address economic mechanisms for enabling implementation and better mainstream the activities of non-governmental organizations and the private sector in actions. An outcome of the workshops and debates conducted on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, within the context of local and national seminars and conferences, has been the development of national targets and associated indicators. Moreover, activities are currently underway to update the NBSAP to 2020.

Regarding implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Republic of Tajikistan ratified the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing by Presidential Decree in September 2013. As part of the Protocol’s implementation, 55 jamoats (pilot districts) in the mountainous areas of the country have signed agreements on the conservation of the genetic resources of wild fruit. In order to conserve and rationally use the genetic resources of wild fruit, in situ and ex situ, a collection of mother gardens and nurseries has been created. A method for homological modeling of the climate for the adaptation of agricultural biodiversity genetic resources (primarily forest species) has also been developed.

In order to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020), seminars and surveys have been conducted in all regions of the country. With a view to enabling the development of strategic national goals and objectives, these seminars have been attended by representatives of administrative, civil and private sectors, as well as scientific and public organizations. Such activities have resulted in the development of in situ conservation measures.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

National Center for Biodiversity and Biosafety (NBBC)

The National Center for Biodiversity and Biosafety (NBBC) was created to coordinate activities aimed at fulfilling the obligations and requirements of the Republic of Tajikistan, in regard to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The NBBC was approved by Government Decree No. 392 (2003). Its main activities include mainstreaming the biodiversity action plan into sectoral action plans, introducing economic mechanisms, creating a data bank on the diversity of flora and fauna, ecosystems and landscapes. Responsibilities of the center also include attracting donors and implementing projects for the conservation of biodiversity, creating a database and monitoring the NBSAP implementation process, developing national reports on the status and use of biodiversity for submission to the CBD Conference of Parties, developing annual reports for internal use, as well as analyzing assessments and examining material on biodiversity, mountain ecosystems, biotechnology, biosafety, etc.

The Center developed the Framework Document on Biosafety (2004), National Environmental Action Plan, four National Reports, and is currently preparing the Fifth National Report and updating the NBSAP to 2020. The NBBC maintains contact with the following major participating organizations in order to effectively implement the NBSAP:

• Governmental institutions – Governmental Working Group, Ministry for Nature Protection, Tajik Forest Production Enterprise, Ministry of Agriculture, State Land Use Committee, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy and Trade, Ministry of Health Protection

• Local Authorities – Regions, Districts, Community representatives

• Institutions – Academy of Science (and branch Institutes), universities, schools, Tajik Academy of Agricultural Science

• Mass Media – national and local newspapers, national and local TV, national and local radio

• National and international environmental initiatives and NGOs

Strategy Management and Action Plan Implementation

A wide range of organizations and agencies is involved in this project. An essential role in NBSAP implementation is given to the NBBC, Ministry for Nature Protection, Tajik Forest Production Enterprise, State Land Committee and Government. NBSAP implementation will be supported by available and new financial mechanisms. The Governmental Working Group (GWG) is experienced in project and information management and serves as an independent body to assess and monitor activities. It does not implement activities related to the NBSAP and biosafety.

The National Focal Point and the NBBC coordinate with the major participating organizations and form the structure and staff of the executing bodies for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and biosafety, in accordance with the Statement of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.

The NBSAP management structure should undertake the following functions:

• Coordinates work on NBSAP implementation (to avoid duplication or repetition).

• Encourages the involvement of a wider range of organizations in NBSAP implementation, including possible investors.

• Promotes contacts between possible participating agencies and appropriate financial mechanisms.

• Examines activity affecting biodiversity and biosafety.

• Determines needs and contributes specific training and technical support, if possible, as well as present certificates of qualification.

• Maintains and disseminates information on NBSAP implementation.

• Develops decision-making systems for biodiversity and biosafety risk assessment.

• Discusses and evaluates NBSAP progress annually.

• Provides evaluations and conclusions on the use of biodiversity, including flora and fauna species listed in the Red Data Book.

• Regularly updates the national report in accordance with the decisions adopted by the CBD Conference of the Parties.

• Plans to increase the extent of the country’s ecological network and participates in regional planning activities of ECONET.

• Disseminates information on NBSAP implementation at both local and international levels.

• Forms decision-making structure on GMOs, biodiversity conservation, plant protection from invasive species.

The NBBC should organize its work in five key directions to manage and administer processes for biodiversity and biosafety:

The Coordination Committee controls the general process for implementing the Strategy and performs the following functions:

• Provides support for participating organizations in fundraising and project implementation.

• Coordinates the operations of the financial mechanisms for NBSAP implementation.

• Collects information on the NBSAP.

• Coordinates all levels of NBSAP planning.

• Assesses the NBSAP implementation process together with the Working Group on the provision of technical support.

• Provides an annual review of NBSAP implementation.

• Disseminates and publishes information on the NBSAP.

• Promotes interaction among all parties participating in NBSAP implementation.

The National Commission on Biological Safety, including scientific organizations and the National Focal Point on Biodiversity and Biosafety (Chairman) and representatives of stakeholders performs the following functions:

• Coordinates work related to biosafety.

• Develops project documents.

• Considers applications on the introduction of GMOs.

• Negotiates contacts with international organizations.

• Attracts experts from the Ministry on Nature Protection, Ministry of Health Protection, Ministry of economy and trade, scientific institutions to participate in decision-making and setting conclusions.

The Scientific Expert Council supports the project at the highest level, determines priorities and trends in project activities. The Council comprises officials from governmental and business circles, NGOs and Academy Institutes, interested in providing independent support (consulting) for projects, and performs the following functions:

• Projects the types of expertise required for biodiversity conservation and biosafety.

• Meets to monitor NBSAP implementation progress.

• Prepares feasibility study of projects on biodiversity and biosafety.

• Conducts public awareness campaigns.

• Analyzes and assesses assorted activities conducted in the biodiversity and biosafety sectors.

The NBSAP implementing agencies are:

The Organizational Analytical Working Group will take part in evaluating information and assessing the technical aspects of project implementation, together with scientists and mass media representatives, who will pay more attention to evolutionary and forecasting processes. This Working Group will also coordinate activities for obtaining the financial mechanisms necessary for implementing the NBSAP.

The Information-Technical Working Group will create a database and be responsible for the following functions:

• Regularly assesses NBSAP implementation and the statuses of biodiversity and biosafety.

• Prepares annual reports on NBSAP implementation and other work on biodiversity and biosafety.

• Collects information.

• Independently monitors and evaluates NBSAP implementation in particular areas.

• Provides general reviews.

• Provides training for necessary activities, including submitting applications for grants.

• Disseminates and publishes information on biodiversity and biosafety.

• Creates a database and website on biodiversity and biosafety.

At present, the national programme to develop Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNTs) comprises 22% of the country’s territory. In the last 20 years, the country has increased the area of protected areas from 4.2% to 25%. This programme includes the ECONET program, which stipulates reorganization and extension of the SPNT system through the creation of buffer zones as well as other zones for nature management, in addition to the development of a special action plan designating responsibilities and deadlines for achieving activities. Plans for establishing new natural parks and extending those already established are underway. More than 10-15% of the diversity of plant and animal species and 5-7% of species diversity of genetic resources are currently being preserved in the Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNTs).

A management plan for biodiversity conservation of flora and fauna species in the Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNTs) has been developed, emphasizing multi-level monitoring of indicator species of flora and fauna in the area. During the course of the plan’s development, studies were undertaken on the state of biodiversity. An additional management plan for the “Dashtidjum” reserve, as well as five sets of additional guidelines to monitor the concept for a management plan for the Hissor Mountains, have also been produced. The first activities of the NBBC included developing a five-year management plan for the "Tigrovaya Balka" reserve, as well as several books with mapped information, particularly regarding "Reserve Status". Information was also collected on the responsibilities of nature managers and on the local population’s dependency on the natural resources in different areas. Collaboration between the local administration and communities played a significant role in the conduct of the project’s activities.

Conservation efforts in Tajikistan include both in situ and ex situ conservation. In situ conservation occurs within the Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNTs) and on the territory covered by wild forests. Ex situ conservation of plant species and genetic diversity is being implemented at the National Republican Center for Genetic Resources (NRCGR) and at the Institute of Agriculture of the Tajik Academy of Agricultural Science (TAAS). Materials (seeds, living collections) of fruit and cereal genetic resources are stored at the NRCGR. In recent years, with the support of the NBBC, banks of genetic resources have been significantly replenished with new seed materials. A part of the seeds are stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norway), as well as at a number of botanical gardens and centers that exist in the country, including the Central Botanical Garden of the Tajik Academy of Science, Kulyab, Khudjand and Pamir Botanical Gardens and the Varzob Mountain Botanical Station. Research has also been conducted on the development of nurseries for the conservation of valuable genetic resources of wild fruit trees in their natural habitat. The development of these private nurseries through the Small Grants Program of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has proven profitable for private entrepreneurs and has also sparked the interest of local entrepreneurs. The Government of Tajikistan has also approved the State Programme on Forestry and Protected Areas. In the “Tigrovaya Balka” SPNT, an ex situ center for the conservation of the Persian gazelle has been developed, as have methodologies by the “Karatag” State Forestry Department relating to the captivity, in semi-free conditions, of the Bokharan deer.

Various projects have been implemented to increase awareness about the importance of conserving biodiversity resources, and in regard to the role and functions of local governments and rural residents in implementation. In the last few years, interest in issues (e.g. energy-saving strategies) has increased as a result of information and training provided to the public by NGOs in the country, that contribute to the reduction of negative pressures on biodiversity. Awareness-raising on the conservation of the valuable biodiversity of agro-ecosystems has also been promoted, with special education and awareness-raising programmes on the genetic value of fruit trees provided to farmers by the Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Plans are also underway in regard to expeditions to parts of Central Asia, including Tajikistan, to investigate and collect rare and disappearing local plant species and maintain their genetic diversity.

Tajikistan is a Party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and has also developed a National Biodiversity and Biosafety Center (NCBB) (http://www.bch.biodiv.tj/).

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

Mainstreaming has proven difficult, but progress has been achieved. Coordination among the different institutions is limited, and the development of sub-legislation and legal mechanisms for regulating implementation has been weak. The lack of a normative legal system for the use of genetic resources is an obstacle to collaboration and implementation of new technologies; its development remains one of the Tajikistan’s future work priorities in biodiversity. However, special legislation which calls for the implementation of particular conservation methods for plant and animal species or groups has been approved by the Government of Tajikistan. This relates in particular to the National Strategy and Action Plan on Biodiversity, National Action Plan for Environmental Protection, State Program for the Development of Protected Areas (2005-2015), State Environment Programme (2009-2019), Laws of the Republic of Tajikistan "on Environmental Expertise", "on Public Environmental Education", "on Environmental Audit", "on Collection, Preservation and Rational Use of Plant Genetic Resources", "on Environmental Monitoring", "on Environmental Information", "on Pastures", etc.

Annually, in line with institutional, economic and political changes, Tajikistan has carried out adjustments and additions to legislation related to biodiversity and ecology. Furthermore, the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan is compiled in accordance with international legal acts under the Conventions and the Protocols thereto.

Additionally, the National Biodiversity and Biosafety Center (NCBB) coordinates the work of scientists, government control services and other stakeholders in the preparation of new documentation and updating that exists, with a view to providing guidelines on bioresource usage, including restrictions and prohibitions on the usage of valuable species and resources.

Collaboration with international organizations registered in Tajikistan is also actively developed through the National Biodiversity and Biosafety Center (NCBB). Cooperation with NGOs has also been established (e.g. a project on the development of a Sustainable Action Plan for the Lower Vakhsh River is being implemented with the World Wildlife Fund). National NGOs also participate in regional projects related to preparing management plans, conducting activities on biodiversity conservation at the community level, among others.

A new area of cooperation has been established between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. This agreement was developed as a result of the European Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) and is supported by Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Priorities of the agreement related to regional cooperation deal with issues such as the sources of pollution of transboundary rivers and objects, biodiversity loss, climate change, natural disasters (e.g. drought and desertification). Joint nature protection projects, transboundary specially protected natural areas, fieldwork and joint expeditions are being planned for under this agreement.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

At present, there is no single national biodiversity monitoring system. However, a database has been developed for the Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNTs) to serve as a basis for monitoring and a model for database management. Other projects are implemented individually and are overseen by a special state agency for SPNT management established under the Environmental Commission in 2004. Regarding biosafety, the BCH website (National Biodiversity and Biosafety Center (NCBB) located at http://www.bch.biodiv.tj/) is constantly updated and accessible to all beneficiaries. The Department of Ecology and Emergency Situations and the Environmental Protection Committee, of the Government of Tajikistan, lead activities related to biodiversity policy.

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